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Spring (or Roll) into Summer 2017

June 26, 2017 | PHOTOGRAPHY BY SCOTT HUNTER

Change up your dinner routine with fresh spring rolls.

 
These appealing rolls, rooted in traditional Southeast Asian cooking, are the perfect symbol to celebrate the warmer months ahead. Crunchy raw vegetables, fresh, vibrant herbs and a mildly spicy sauce come together to lead us into the sunshine of the season. Incredibly versatile, rice wrappers can be filled with just about anything. Fresh peas and greens offer a pleasant contrast to the soft chewy texture of the wrapper. The pretty pink cooked shrimp look lovely through the slightly opaque paper. But these are only guidelines, let your imagination lead you to explore a myriad of fillings. Why not add avocado, cooked, shredded pork or chicken, thinly sliced radish, sautéed mushrooms, or… you get the point!
 
While not difficult to do, rolling rice paper is a skill that requires a bit of trial and error, and some patience. The rice paper is really sticky when soaked. Keep dipping your fingers in the bowl of water for soaking to help prevent the wrappers sticking to you. And avoid trying to overstuff the wrappers – it’s better to have more filling for more spring rolls than to fight with an overstuffed wrapper. Finally, don’t get frustrated if the first few wrappers don’t look so hot, you’ll get the hang of it real quick. And then you’ll be hooked! 
 
This easy dipping sauce is also just a starting point. If you prefer a spicier flavour, add more chili flakes, or some grated ginger. A simple peanut sauce would also be a great dipper. There are so many choices and so many options for something so fresh, simple and healthy.
 
Happy summer! And happy cooking!

SPRING ROLLS (Serves 6)

  • 50 g vermicelli
  • 85 g snow peas
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned 
  • 12 sheets rice paper wrappers
  • 12 large cooked shrimp, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup each fresh mint, basil and cilantro leaves
  • 4 leaves green leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

DIPPING SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes

 

 


Dipping Sauce
  • In saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, garlic, chili flakes and ó cup water to a simmer over medium heat, stirring just until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.
Spring Rolls
  • Soak vermicelli in cold water until pliable, about 5 minutes.
  • In large pot of boiling water, blanch vermicelli for 20 seconds, the snow peas for 30 seconds and the carrots for 30 seconds, rinsing them all in cold water immediately after blanching to stop further cooking. Drain and dry vermicelli and vegetables.
  • Cut snow peas on long diagonal. Mix together the vermicelli, snow peas, carrots and cucumber.
  • Fill a large shallow bowl or dish with warm water and soak one wrapper until soft, about 10 seconds. Place wrapper on dry cloth. Place two shrimp halves in the centre; top with some of the fresh herbs and a piece or two of the lettuce. Cover with the vegetable mixture. Roll into a cylinder, tucking in the edges as you roll. Put on a wax or parchment paper-lined tray and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

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